Thou Shalt Obey Web Design Rules

    September 29, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

They are actually more like guidelines, really, but writer Jim Edwards did a nice job of assembling Ten Commandments of web design for new and experienced webmasters alike.

(UPDATE! The links and attribution in this article have changed as the site and author initially credited with these suggestions were incorrect. The proper links and attribution have been added now.)

The notes on Site-Reference by Jim Edwards suggest an approach that advocates of agile computing should recognize. The tips focus on quickly and effectively placing information in front of the visitor regardless of the visitor’s browser and computer.

Edwards goes with the Ten Commandments theme in titling each section of the post, and it’s a lot more fun to read if you say it to yourself in a powerful Charlton Heston voice.

Everything on a website should have a purpose for being there, Edwards noted first. Anything, any element that does not fit that purpose needs to go. Consistency matter as well, and a style sheet can manage that.

The site should be lightweight and fast to load. Even with the number of broadband connections increasing in the US and abroad, people still want websites to leap gazelle-like into their browsers.

Our readers will appreciate number five – thou shalt respect the search engines:

If you want search engine traffic use whole web pages that don’t incorporate frames or large amounts of code unrelated to your content. Also, if you want search traffic, actively cultivate linking relationships with related sites and operate a blog.

Let’s not forget the potential for divine retribution from spam avengers like Matt Cutts at Google, as well as other search sites.

Staying on purpose would mean eschewing that Flash page serving as the portal to the rest of the site. Sideways scrolling should be avoided too, Edwards recommends.

A suggestion about code for the site will provoke some discussion:

You should only use html, PHP or ASP to create your web pages. Never use java, xml, dhtml or other forms of code that require a surfer to keep their browser set up “correctly” to accommodate your page. Unless you sell to “geeks” and “techno-nerds,” this will only lose you visitors and won’t make you any friends.

Aside from Java, modern browsers already handle XML and DHTML (aka Ajax) pretty well. Java has become widely used to the point where most users probably do have a JVM on their machines.

Edwards’s post makes for an interesting read, and the suggestions within it should be helpful to webmasters.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.